Andrea della Robbia
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This glazed terracotta relief of Saint Francis, by Andrea della Robbia, is found in the Chiesa Maggiore of La Verna. The sculpture is on the left side of the arch around the high altar, and therefore would have complemented Andrea's large altarpiece of the Ascension when the latter sculpture was in its original location above the high altar. Marquand reported that both this relief and its partner image, Saint Anthony Abbot, were once in the Brizi Chapel, but his assertion has been contested by Domestici and Miller. It is unclear how the figures would have fit into the restricted space of the Brizi chapel, and they function better spatially in their current locations, where they would have served as saintly witnesses to the image of the Ascension. Whatever the original location, it is fitting that Saint Francis would be commemmorated at a site central to his life and to the spirituality of the order he founded: the mountain of La Verna was gifted to Saint Francis by Count Orlando Catani in 1213, and Francis and his companions frequently visited the site. Most importantly, it was here in 1224, two years before his death, that Francis received the stigmata. In Andrea della Robbia's glazed terracotta depiction, the saint draws attention to the evidence of this miracle as it was imprinted into his flesh: the nails and wounds he received in his hands, feet, and breast. In his right hand, Francis holds the cross, a means of further stressing the saint's imitation of and similarity to Christ, aspects which were celebrated by biographers such as Saint Bonaventure. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.